EMQ’s with FLYING CIRCUS
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with German Progressive Psychedelic Hard Rock band, Flying Circus. Huge thanks to Michael Dorp for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
We are called “Flying Circus”, I’m Michael Dorp and I am the singer of the band. I founded the group 30 years ago with our guitarist Michael Rick – at first as a quite straightforward hard rock band in the Led Zeppelin/Deep Purple vein. Over the years, more and more progressive rock elements crept in, and since our debut album “Seasons” in 1997, most critics have described us a mixture between Led Zeppelin and Yes, and we have often been compared to another crossbreed of these two sides, Rush. We released a string of albums and had major line-up changes in 2011/2012. Since then, the band members have been me and Michael Rick, Rüdiger Blömer (keys and violin), Roger Weitz (bass guitar), and Ande Roderigo (drums), and the music has become even more open. The hard rock influences are still there, but the progressive influences have become more varied. Sometimes, we get compared to King Crimson now, but I guess we draw our inspirations from all the late 60s and 70s rock world and make our own mixture of styles out of that.
How did you come up with your band name?
When we founded the band, I studied English at the University of Cologne, and as I was a big fan of the Monty Python movies! I was very glad to find out that you could rent the complete Monty Python TV series on video cassettes at the British Council in Cologne. I binge-watched the whole lot, and always thought that “Flying Circus” was a great name for a band as well, as it has so much energy. So, when we formed the band, it was clear that we would call it that.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
We are still based around Cologne and Düsseldorf in Germany. As you know, this area is in the western part of Germany, and in the music world, the two cities are best known for Can (Cologne) and Kraftwerk (Düsseldorf) – who are both quite arty, of course. Maybe that’s why we picked up that half of our influences. On the other hand, we recorded our latest album in the Cologne hinterland at “Dierks Studios”, which has always had strong hard rock and metal links. The classic Scorpions albums were all recorded there and many works by Accept and U.D.O. The studio has always been host to great recordings from all kinds of genres (Rory Gallagher, Ike and Tina Turner, Eric Burdon…). So, the music scene in general in our area has always been, and is still quite vibrant, but for bands playing their own material, it’s sometimes hard to get gigs among all the tribute and cover bands around. But I guess that has become a worldwide phenomenon.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Our latest release is a concept album called “1968”, which will come out on 27th March. All the album’s songs share a unique historic event of this momentous year and are set in different places all around the world. Thus, incidents that happened in Paris, Prague, Berlin, Vienna, Derry, My Lai (Vietnam), Memphis/Tennessee and New York in 1968, get set to music in tracks named after the respective cities they are set in. Currently, we have released two singles with videos accompanying the album which you can have a look at on our YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/circuscrow
Who have been your greatest influences?
Besides the bands we have already mentioned, our strongest influences probably comprise Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and Uriah Heep on the metal/hard rock side, and early Genesis and Pink Floyd on the prog rock side. But really, we listen to everything that falls between these two corner stones of ours: Jethro Tull, Pavlov’s Dog, Wishbone Ash, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Nektar… folk, metal, psychedelic, blues rock, krautrock, jazz rock – you name it! Bert Jansch, Iron Maiden, Hawkwind, Free, Mahavishnu Orchestra – ANYTHING fitting in with our concept.
What first got you into music?
I was a keen listener from my teenage years onwards, and I really liked Queen at the time, but I guess my interest got much more serious when Deep Purple reformed in 1984, which was a huge event in Germany. In addition to their then new “Perfect Strangers” album, I bought a greatest hits LP set that was advertised on TV at the time. I really got into that, and similar “old” stuff, and asked myself why there weren’t more bands like that around, still. And with Michael Rick, I soon found another guy who wanted to recreate that magic of the 70s.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Oh, as far as current bands and musicians are concerned, an obvious choice would certainly be Opeth and Steven Wilson – simply because I think we share the same ethos.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
That’s quite easy to say as well: Simply because there are not that many festivals for our type of music around, we would love to play the “Night of the Prog” festival over here in Germany. Our albums have all been very well received, especially by the critics, but we certainly need some live exposure on a bigger scale. Plus, that festival takes places at the Loreley arena directly overlooking the Rhine, and it has seen many great concerts in its history.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Oh, at one of our concerts in the 1990s we had a dozen or so cuddly toys being thrown at us. That was really odd, especially considering our type of music…
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Always give new music a try. Don’t just listen to types of music you already know and like. I think that’s very rewarding. And go to small live shows where you can look the musicians in the eye. That’s what it’s all about.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
That would probably be Jimi Hendrix – I think he would have been the most interesting guy of those who are already gone to see develop further. I am certain he would have given the world so much more incredible music we cannot even imagine.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
The best thing is being able to express yourself. To turn your innermost feelings into something tangible. What I hate is the administrative side of it. People have no idea of how time consuming all the booking and promotion work is. I like interviews, though… 🙂 It’s the social media stuff nowadays that ties you to some kind of screen or another for hours and hours…
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I guess that would be rewinding the clock, but I would love to see labels go back to the practice of really LISTENING, and then getting behind a band – sometimes maybe even simply for artistic reasons. Nowadays, they let all the bands do the work themselves up to a certain degree, and then they just pick what’s got the most popular already in order to cash in on that.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
“Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin – it’s so varied and open that I still consider it a template worth striving for.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Vinyl, of course! The wonderful sleeves alone would be enough, but it just feels different to put a needle on a turntable in order to sit down and have a listen. That’s how it’s meant to be!
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
As far as reputations go, that would be playing the Burg Herzberg-Open Air here in Germany alongside some bona fide 70s-stars like Man, Colosseum, Wishbone Ash, Caravan & John Mayall, but musically I think it was our first promotional show we did for our current album “1968”. We really nailed live what we’ve recorded there!
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Oh, I AM doing something else in addition to being a musician: I am a freelance publicist and editor.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and Jon Paul Jones, so they can reunite Led Zeppelin and David Gilmour, and Roger Waters in order for them to bury the hatchet as well…
What’s next for the band?
The current album is our first in years that has been published by a label, so we are very curious what difference that will make for us. But we are already thinking of various concepts for a follow-up album and will probably start writing for that very soon.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
We don’t have them in Germany, but I have always considered them to be a biscuit when I have come across them in Britain.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Yes, you British are so lucky with your incredible rock heritage – cherish it!
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